Are we clay in the hands of the Potter?

A very common, traditional teaching in the church is that believers are clay and God is a Potter, shaping, molding and doing as He will with us. This understanding has never born witness in my spirit. If I am a new creation, created in righteousness, filled with His Spirit, adopted into His family and seated with Him in heavenly places, in what sense am I clay?

When we go to the Scriptures for understanding, an entirely different picture is painted. The idea of the Potter certainly refers to God, but the subject of the clay never refers to individuals, especially not in the New Covenant. The clay in the Old Testament refers either to Israel or to the nations. The contexts of the passages speaking of the potter and the clay is always with reference to God’s dealings with Israel. They are the chosen portion from the lump of the nations with whom God is working.

Romans 9 is frequently referred to as a passage that speaks of believers as clay, but again, Romans 9 is speaking of the Old Testament analogy of Israel found in Isaiah 29, Isaiah 45, Isaiah 64, and Jeremiah 18. In every case the context is the nation of Israel. In Jeremiah 18 it makes the subject very clear: “O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;” (Jer. 18:6-7)

God is speaking to Israel in the context of the covenant of the Law and the promise He made to Abraham to curse those who cursed Israel.

What about us? In 2 Timothy Paul speaks to the idea of believers becoming vessels unto honor and dishonor. Here is the passage: “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.” (2 Tim. 2:20)

But when we continue reading a very interesting statement is made.

“If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” (2Ti 2:21)

Reading the full chapter reveals that if a man wants to be a vessel of honor in the house of the Lord, he must purge himself from iniquity! That is a very different picture than the traditional teaching of the potter and the clay. Aren’t we already forgiven and cleansed? Yes, our spirits are one with Him, created in righteousness. But that is not what Paul is referring to. Read Colossians 3:5-14 for a full description of what Paul is referring to in 2 Timothy 2.

The point is that God is not beating and shaping His children as clay. He is not sending calamity, sickness and destruction into our lives. He sent His Word (2 Tim. 3:16-17) and the Word alone can perfect us.

Barry Bennett

God moves in mysterious ways.

The mother of all clichés might be this one.  The idea is that God is mysterious and we are simple pawns in His celestial game.  What right do we have to understand anything?  He has it all under control.  Everything happens for a reason.  He allows evil.  He gives and takes away, and, just to make sure that we wash our hands of all responsibility we declare, “He moves in mysterious ways.”

Nevertheless, Jesus made it clear that if you have seen Him, you have seen the Father (Jn. 14:9).  Jesus is God in the flesh.  His words and actions perfectly reveal the Father.  There is no more mystery!  If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus.  He went about doing good and healing all because God was with Him (Acts 10:38).  Where God is, goodness and healing exist.

The mystery actually resides in the hearts of those who have chosen ignorance and fatalism.  They have refused to be transformed by the renewing of their minds (Rom. 12:2).  They have not sought out wisdom and spiritual understanding (Eph. 1:17-18).  The thought of accepting the responsibility for reigning in life overwhelms them. Living by clichés is much easier.

Your expectations in life will follow your core beliefs.  If you believe that God is schizophrenic and mysterious, you should expect a life of questions and loss.  Clichés will be your only solution.  When you understand that God has given you His Name, His blood, His Spirit, His Word, His better Covenant, His promises, His armor, His faith and the keys to His kingdom, you will begin to cooperate with Him and enforce His will in your life. 

It is time to expect God’s blessings in your life.  It is time to expect to do God’s works.  It is time to resist the enemy.  It is time to walk in your divine authority over the enemy, sickness and loss.  Drop the clichés and get to know God.  He has given you dominion.  Don’t give it to the devil! 

Barry Bennett

The Gospel of Clichés

In the next few weeks I want to look at a number of clichés that some Christians use to explain their view of God and the world.

Cliché #1     God is in control.

This is a typical response by many Christians to any event in the world that seems tragic or incomprehensible.  It is meant to convey that while world events, tragedies, sicknesses and death may be mysterious to us, we can take comfort because God has everything under control.

This is a fundamental misunderstanding that leads to fatalism, passivity and a wrong view of God.  I would suggest that God has everything under control in heaven/new heaven, new earth, because everyone and everything will be fully submitted to Him.  On this earth, however, we see corruption, death, tragedy and darkness.  God is not controlling these things.

Why do we glibly declare that God is in control, but He doesn’t even control us who claim to be filled with His Spirit?  Does God make you obey the law, pay your taxes, drive the speed limit and deny the flesh?  And yet we are to believe that God has “everything else” under control?

God gave the earth to man (Gen. 1:26-28, Ps. 115:16, Ps. 8:4-6).  This truth is the foundation of understanding the nature of God, the nature of man and the purpose of redemption.  Man was created in God’s image and created to have dominion over God’s creation.  Sin separated man from God’s life and purpose and left the earth under the dominion of Satan (2 Cor. 4:4, 1 Jn. 5:19).

To suggest that God controls all things places full responsibility for sickness, death, tragedies, wars, natural disasters, child abuse and every other evil in His lap.  It makes God the perpetrator of human suffering.

When we get the revelation that God gave dominion to man, we can begin to cooperate with His purposes in the earth.  We are called to reign in life!  (Rom. 5:17)  We are called to still the storms, heal the sick, cast out demons and extend the Kingdom (Jn. 14:12).  We aren’t called to sit back and respond with clichés to the suffering around us or in our own lives.  It is time to submit to the true knowledge of God, resist Satan, sin and corruption and reign in life! (James 4:7)

Barry Bennett

“The Scripture cannot mean more to you than it did to the original audience and original author.”  “To apply things written thousands of years ago to our own culture will only lead to error in interpretation.”

This is one of the latest attempts to undermine the authority of the Scripture.  Even on the surface these are nonsensical statements.  Basically, all Scripture means more to me than it did to the original audience!  Jesus had to open the minds of the disciples to understand the Old Testament (Luke 24:45).  Didn’t the scriptures mean more to them at that point than they ever did at the time they were written to Israel?  They began to see Christ in the Old Testament where they had never seen Him before (Luke 24:47).

 

Isn’t the gospel itself a revealer of things hidden?  The gospel is “the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God.”  (Rom. 16:25-26)

 

Didn’t an angel tell Daniel, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.” (Dan. 12:9)

 

The very nature of Bible prophecy is that it is meaningless to the original audience, but revealed by the Spirit to later generations who see its coming fulfillment.

 

Doesn’t Isaiah 53, the prophecy concerning Christ’s redemptive work, mean more to us than it did to the Jews that lived 700 years before Christ?  What about Psalm 22, which describes the crucifixion of Christ hundreds of years before crucifixion was a known form of capital punishment?

 

Peter addresses this very subject in 2 Peter 3.  The ENTIRE CHAPTER is devoted to comforting the ‘original audience’ concerning the end times and not losing hope simply because the events of Christ’s return are still in the future.  He even declares, “do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Pet. 3:8)

 

The motivation behind the premise that Scripture cannot mean more to you than it did to the original audience is simple.  Certain false teachers have an agenda and Scripture gets in the way of that agenda.  Thus, if they can arbitrarily and subjectively eliminate chunks of Scripture that contradict them, they have a clear path for their error.

 

We are not dealing with old manuscripts that have no relevance to our generation.  The Scripture is alive and there is spiritual relevance in every word.

 

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  (Heb. 4:12)

 

The ‘original audience’ may not have gleaned even a portion of what has been revealed to us today.  Don’t be persuaded to dismiss the Scriptures because you didn’t happen to be there when they were written.  Living words have no expiration date.

 

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. (Rom. 15:4)

Barry Bennett